Based on our corporate mission of empowering people and society through innovation, the Rakuten Group strives to address challenges facing society by leveraging our assets, hand in hand with our stakeholders.
- We conduct social initiatives which are in line with our corporate mission, focusing on areas defined through engagement with our stakeholders.
- We aim to create positive social impact in collaboration with various stakeholders by leveraging Rakuten's assets, including our services, technologies and employees.
- We support employees’ involvement in social initiatives and implement strategies that facilitate their participation.
Since its foundation, Rakuten has been committed to contributing to society through its businesses, starting with Rakuten Ichiba and the revitalization of Japan’s local communities. As our ecosystem grew, social initiatives were launched for the company’s 10th anniversary as a way to leverage our assets to empower different members of society. Over the years our initiatives have diversified from teaching students the basics of e-commerce to collecting online donations for disaster relief efforts through Rakuten’s payment services.
In 2017, the time had come to reestablish our sustainability strategy to integrate new expectations from our stakeholders. With our materiality newly established — in other words, the key societal issues that Rakuten has a high-priority responsibility to address — we also updated our social initiative strategy. While respecting our approach of empowering people by addressing social challenges through leveraging our assets, we refined our priority areas and corresponding initiatives. Our current focus areas are social innovation, local communities, sustainable consumption and humanitarian aid.
Mechanisms to Facilitate Employee Participation
While our social initiatives effect positive change in society, they also impact participating employees positively, as they get to participate in the empowerment of various stakeholders and experience Rakuten’s mission, vision and value. Employee engagement surveys have shown that these experiences have had a significant impact on employees’ feelings about their contribution to society. In order to facilitate this positive change, Rakuten offers a variety of systems and opportunities that facilitate employees' participation in social initiatives.
In 2019, a series of heavy rains and typhoons struck Japan, causing severe damage. Rakuten introduced a special leave of up to five days for a fixed period of time to support employees joining the resulting disaster relief efforts. In March 2020, this special leave became permanently available for Rakuten, Inc.’s employees, not only for natural disasters but also for NPO support activities. Since October 2019, a similar system has allowed employees at Rakuten Americas to request time off to volunteer for the organization of their choice.
Rakuten’s additional post system allows any employee to dedicate a percentage of their time to projects outside their main work responsibilities. Through this system, it is also possible to participate in mid- and long-term pro-bono* activities. Like any other additional post, participation in social initiatives is taken into account in the employee’s biannual evaluation so that their efforts may be officially recognized.
*professional work undertaken voluntarily
Social Empowerment Community
Rakuten has an internal community of employees who are interested in contributing to society, as well as learning about and solving social issues. This community aims to offer a place for employees to connect by discussing sustainability through online and offline events, newsletters and a dedicated communication platform.
Contributing to Society with Employees
Rakuten Social Accelerator
The Rakuten Social Accelerator (RSA) is an innovation program launched in 2018 that brings together social entrepreneurs and Rakuten employees to tackle social issues. The program goes beyond simple advice-giving, aiming to generate concrete output that leads to true social impact, with the support of Rakuten employees with experiences in a variety of fields and industries. In 2020, despite the COVID-19 pandemic, this collaborative program continued connecting employees and entrepreneurs, shifting to an online format called RSA Online.
With the launch of the program at the Development and Operations Center in Bengaluru, India, the Rakuten Social Accelerator program went global in 2019. Following the same program structure, employees of Rakuten India form project teams with non-profit organizations and leverage their expertise in order to advance businesses that contribute to solving social issues. The creation of websites and applications for organizations working on food loss, wildlife conservation and support of the visually impaired are notable results of the program’s success.
>>For more information about RSA, please visit this page
Rakuten IT School NEXT
In 2008, Rakuten IT School was launched in order to foster a spirit of entrepreneurship among high school students in Japan by providing them with hands-on lessons on e-commerce. Piloted in just three schools, the program expanded nationwide over the years, reaching around 7,000 students in the span of a decade. Students got to work with merchants and hoteliers to plan sales strategies for Rakuten Ichiba and Rakuten Travel, create webpages for products and accommodation plans, and even participate in real online sales.
In 2018, the program underwent a pivotal transformation and became Rakuten IT School NEXT, offering high school students the opportunity to develop their creativity beyond online retail. Forming teams with local stakeholders and Rakuten employees, they take part in three-day ideation workshops to design the future of their local communities, using Rakuten's services and technologies. They then develop prototypes for their ideas, in the hopes of finding solutions to challenges faced by their local communities.
>>For more details, please visit this page.
Volunteering in the New Normal
As many traditional volunteer activities have faced significant challenges due to the pandemic, our employees continue to give back to society in the new normal via online activities.
- Website for NPOs to respond to COVID-19
- In 2020, many non-profit organizations (NPOs) had to scale down their activities to prevent the spread of COVID-19, which affected the sustainability of their organizations and projects, often putting the beneficiaries of their activities in difficult situations. In order to mitigate such results, the COVID-19 Intermediary Social Solidarity (CIS) organization has launched a website (in Japanese) to spread information about how to support these NPOs. The website was created with the support of Code for Japan STO (Social Technology Officer) as well as volunteers, including Rakuten employees who made use of their professional experience as project managers, UI/UX designers and engineers.
- 30min Consultation for NPO
- 30-Minute Consultation for NPOs is another program in place for Rakuten employees to casually engage with volunteer activities and support. Even employees who may not ordinarily have enough time to participate in NPO projects can leverage their skills and experiences to answer a wide range of requests which only take a few minutes. Topics include everything from tutorials on how to use video conferencing systems to social media management consulting.
- Volunteer activities at home
Rakuten employees also have the opportunity to engage in offline volunteer activities while staying at home. In collaboration with the NPO SHAPLA NEER = Citizens’ Committee in Japan for Overseas Support, which collects all sorts of unused items to fund their projects, employees are invited to receive part of these items at home, like postage stamps for example, and to take on the task of sorting and counting them, an essential step before being able to sell them. The collaboration also consists of online dialogues with NPO staff members for employees to learn how such activities lead to the empowerment of people overseas.
Contributing with our Stakeholders through our Platforms
Rakuten Clutch Special Charity Fund
The Rakuten Clutch Special Charity Fund is an online donation system that allows users to make donations through the various methods offered by our payment services, including Rakuten Points. The charity fund was established following the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake when Rakuten received thousands of requests from users who wanted to express their support to communities affected by the disaster. Since its establishment, the system has acted as a channel for delivering donations to a wide range of causes around the world, from disaster relief to child poverty.
>> To make a donation, please visit this page.
As a communication platform used by one billion global users, Rakuten Viber holds great potential to raise awareness on social issues all around the world.
From July until January 2020, Rakuten Viber teamed up with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) on a global campaign for World Tiger Day and supported its mission to double the population of tigers in the wild by 2022. The campaign made use of the Viber’s features to support WWF’s fundraising activities in an entertaining way, including tiger-themed stickers, a community chat for staying up to date with WWF’s latest updates and a chatbot which let users test their knowledge about tigers through a series of quizzes. Rakuten Viber also matched donations that came through the application.
In 2020, Rakuten Viber also partnered with WHO (The World Health Organization) and IFRC (The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies) to share accurate and reliable COVID-19 information to people around the world. With WHO, a Viber chatbot was available for users to receive notifications with the latest news, statistics, information on how to protect themselves and their loved ones, and to test their knowledge on COVID-19 through an interactive quiz. A dedicated sticker pack which recognizes healthcare workers for their efforts in fighting this pandemic has been created.
Clutch, the mascot of the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles, is modeled on the golden eagle, a species on the verge of extinction. Rakuten launched Rakuten’s Forest initiative in 2014 to recover the biological habitat of the golden eagle. To date, 504.34 hectares of forest have been conserved through this initiative.
Data on Philanthropic Activities
Total number of hours volunteered
Total amount of donations collected through Rakuten Clutch Special Charity Fund
- Hours volunteered in 2019